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BLOG ARCHIVE:  02/01/05 - 02/28/05
Looking at last week's Sports Weekly which listed the likely starters for each team, I realized one thing when looking at Colorado's probable lineup: Todd Helton is the only recognizable name on the team.  That does not bode well for a team already having difficulty winning game away from home.  Throw in some inexperienced pitching and young hitters and you're got the making of a last place season.

Quick question: which balllpark housed the most home runs in 2004?  Coors? No.  Camden Yards? No.  Wrigley? No.  U.S. Cellular Field? YES.
Despite the homer happy haven, the White Sox have revamped their roster and focused more on speed and defense.  This week's Sporting News includes a article worth checking out on that very topic.

02/23/05's Jayson Stark sounds off on Barry Bonds' strange comments from yesterday...

Ken Rosenthal of the Sporting News takes a realistic look at the near future of baseball and steroids.

Loyal reader Ben Cleveland chimes in and The Commish chimes back (my responses in red):

Couple thought provokers:

Recent admissions, and evolving common sense, indicate that MLB managers, coaches, trainers, and team management knew that their players were taking performance enhancing drugs.  Did the inaction by those in the know act as implicit approval by ownership to take steroids?  How about active encouragement?  Yes and yes.  That's why, as I have said time and time again, the blame should not be placed solely on the players, the same way it would be easier to rid the country of drugs if we went after the pushers rather than the users.

If so, how does that change the steroid debate?  It puts the pressure on the owners to come up with a better testing policy, but then it falls back on what the players union is willing to accept.  When a player like Mark McGwire fails to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, then the union will likely be more accommodating in accepting stricter testing.

White Sox GM, Kenny Williams, recently indicated that his decision to deconstruct a team built on power and rebuild one focused on speed and defense was, in part, affected by the projected impact of MLB's steroid testing.  What does this motivation suggest?  Is this an isolated decision or a precursor of a shift in MLB?  What will baseball look like under a strict steroid testing policy?  It suggests that he wasn't getting anywhere will the current squad, so he accommodated skipper Ozzie Guillen's wishes for a more athletic ballclub.  Steroids may have entered the equation but were likely not a deciding factor.  Hopefully, baseball will look more like the '80s, when 38 HRs might lead the league and winning teams had good teams (ex. Cardinals with Jack Clark as their only "power" hitter), not just good home run hitters.

The Yankees have made a living off of acquiring other teams monsters, while arguably neglecting their own farm raised youngsters.  If the Yanks' high priced Michelin men start to shrink in both size and production, what will be the impact to their club?  To their division?  To major league baseball?  I'd like to say the Yankees will suffer, but they have some of the best talent, not just the best power hitters.  Take steroids away from every team and the Yanks will still have great talent.  If not, they'll go buy it.  Their division will be affected just like the rest of the league - runs will become scarcer and will have to be manufactured, which means players will have to call up their Little League coaches for some refreshing on bunting.

Olivia Wilde, who plays the O.C.'s "Alex Kelly", is the hottest chick on TV.  Discuss.  That is a false statement.  Olivia Wilde has been lapped in that category by Evangeline Lilly, star of ABC's Lost.

Rick Hurd of the Contra Costa Times has a few interesting things to say on Canseco, expanding on the issues discussed on TCO.

With pitchers and catchers packing their duffel bags for a new season, the topic of steroids won't go away.  Today, a TCO reader responds to The Commish's article about Jose Canseco.  See what the reader has to say and how The Commish responds in the latest Hot Corner.

The Minnesota Twins made a bold, yet smart, move today, signing Cy Young winner Johan Santana to a 4-year deal reportedly worth $40 million.  It's a lot of money for a team like the Twins to throw around, but it looks like a wise investment at this stage.  Just 25, Santana has plenty of prime years ahead, and he has already demonstrated a solid history, posting three straight years of good to outstanding pitching. 

While they would have had Santana cheaper through arbitration this year, it probably would have meant losing him next year if he has another season similar to last year.  Instead, Minnesota has locked up the most dominant pitcher in baseball last year for four more years - not a bad deal for either side.

With Jose Canseco's book due to hit shelves soon, it's time for The Commish to weigh in on the issue while answering some reader mail at the same time.  For The Commish's take on Canseco's outing of his peers, check out the latest Hot Corner!

Perhaps Magglio Ordonez is confused, but he is claiming that the White Sox "buried" him when GM Ken Williams talked openly of his injury and suggested that it was more severe than Ordonez believes, thereby hurting his value in the free agent market.  Ordonez felt vindicated when the Tigers offered him a long term deal, but the whole thing can fall apart if Ordonez's injury flares up again in '05.

According to AP sports writer Ronald Blum, "The Tigers would have the right to void Ordonez's contract after the 2005 season if he has a recurrence of the left knee injury that limited his production with the Chicago White Sox for most of last year and if the reoccurrence lands him on the disabled list for 25 days or more."

That means that a reoccurrence that shelves him for a month will give Ordonez $12 million for '05 and that's it.  Then, he'd be a free agent again with even less value than he has now.  Personally, I'd rather take the two year guaranteed deals offered by teams like the Cubs and prove myself, then sign an extension or become a free agent again in '07, healed and in my prime.  Instead, "Mags" felt insulted and settled for what could be a long term deal but is one injury away from being a quick $12 million and a push out the door.

"Mags" shouldn't feel disrespected, because he'll either make a lot of money, or Bill Gates kind of money, depending on the health of his knee.  The one difference with the deal he signed is that now he's stuck in Detroit for a looonnngg time if he's healthy.  Hopefully that's where he wants to be.

The Super Bowl is right around the corner and you have your office pool squares in your hand.  Do you stand a chance come Sunday?  Read the latest Foul Territory and find out what Squaralysis can tell you about your numbers!

Superagent Scott Boras has done it again.  Laying low with his riskiest free agent in the offseason, Boras waited until all the big names were signed before focusing his attention on peddling gimpy Magglio Ordonez.  With a couple knee surgeries closing out the second half of last season but a history of consistently great numbers, Ordonez is a wild card if ever there was such a thing.

Playing the waiting game with Ordonez seemed to backfire at first, with only Detroit making a serious offer.  It seemed that they were bidding against themselves, but suddenly the teams still desperate for an outfielder are thinking about taking the plunge for Ordonez, thereby driving up his market value.  The Cubs are in need of some power in the outfield, the Mets have recently expressed some interest if they can unload Cameron or Floyd, and Detroit is clinging to its last chance to land a big name this offseason.

Even if the interest from the Cubs, Mets, and others is just fleeting, Boras had created competition for a free agent who may not be able to run full speed come Opening Day.  Boras' hand may be a greasy one to shake, but it's one that will make you a lot of money if he's on your side.

With the Sosa trade to Baltimore all but a done deal (Sosa and $12 million to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston and a couple minor leaguers), I have heard from several national media members on ESPN Radio that it is considered a "good deal" for both sides.  I couldn't disagree more.  While trading Sosa has become a necessity because of his inability to get along with the team and the Cubs ownership's inability to keep its mouth shut and trade him while he still has some value, the deal could hardly be considered "good" for the Cubs.

Baltimore gave up very little and will only have to pay roughly 1/3 of Sosa's salary in '05, so even if Sosa fades into oblivion sooner rather than later, it hardly seems like much of a risk for the Orioles.  Chicago, on the other hand, was left looking desperate and needy, and all they ended up with was a utility guy with some speed and no power, a couple prospects, a much thinner wallet, but one less headache for the 2005 season.  Unfortunately, that still leaves the Cubs two corner outfielders short of a lineup with little left from which to choose (Burnitz? Ordonez and his injuries?).

An inevitable trade?  Yes.  A necessary deal?  Yes.  A "good deal" for the Cubs?  Hardly.

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